Sunday, April 14 2024

Stefania Garassini, a mother, university professor of communication, and journalist opens our eyes to the power of TV series through a new website, Orientaserie, and a book, Lo schermo dei desideri (“The Wish Screen”), to explain to other parents like her, as well as educators in general, why series “can shape young viewers’ ideas about themselves, relationships, and the world.” 

We have already dedicated a special in-depth article to Orientaserie. The book instead, Lo schermo dei desideri. Come le serie cambiano la nostra vita (“The Wish Screen. How Series Change Our Lives”), which is part of the “Parents and Children” series by Ares Publishers, Inc, published in 2023, is a wonderful guide that teaches us how to handle and interpret the world of TV series. As writer Jonathan Gottschall states in his The Storytelling Animal: “Narrative fiction shapes our minds. Stories, whether in the form of movies, books, or video games, teach us about the real world; they influence our moral logic and fill us with fears, hopes, and anxieties that alter our behavior, perhaps even our personalities.”

Garassini’s book is informative without being pedantic and didactic. It explains how websites, with their powerful algorithms (Netflix, Prime, Disney + and so on), have changed the way we watch audiovisual stories both individually—the most common trend today—and as a family and the consequences for the way we consume them.

The third chapter, in particular, focuses on the power directors, screenwriters, and showrunners have to shape morals through their stories. The author makes this analysis through examples like the series Thirteen Reasons Why, Squidgame, Euphoria, and Sex Education.

The book closes with a kind of “toolkit,” as the author calls it, where she offers a basic glossary of technical terms, ranging from the professions involved in the fictional series industry to the narrative mechanisms employed by writers and producers (story arc, cliffhanger, etc.). Knowledge of the apparatus makes us more savvy viewers to judge the works. Thus, we are more immune to “fallacious messages,” despite their technical workmanship being of high quality. One thing this guide couldn’t leave out is a decalogue of tips for watching series as a family, intended for parents and educators.

In short, it is a book we recommend for our readers, which we hope will be translated into English and Spanish. A thank you to the author is well-deserved.

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